Author Topic: Oldest phone numbers?  (Read 6360 times)

Offline old_stuff_hound

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Oldest phone numbers?
« on: December 08, 2011, 08:09:37 PM »
I grew up in Chester, SC. When I was a kid we had a very old coal fire poker that came from Chester Ice & Fuel. As best as I can recall, it said, "Phone #16". Were early, early phone numbers as few as two digits?

Sure wish I had that fire poker now! :-(

Offline Wallphone

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Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2011, 08:24:02 PM »
They were as few as one digit back in the switchboard days. Or you didn't even have to know their number, you just told the Operator who you wanted to talk to.
Doug Pav

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2011, 11:24:29 PM »
We are used to uniform 7 or 10 digit phone numbers now but back in the days of Manual switchboards, as DougPav said, anything went. That is because they started counting at Jack number 1 and went from there. The exchange would frequently be known as the name of the town or city if it were the only exchange in town.

When the conversion to automatic (dial) happened they had to make all numbers the same length so if nothing else they would have added zero's to the beginning of numbers that had less digits than other numbers in the exchange. They may still have been 3 to 7 digits long but were all uniform in length then.

Manual switchboard would usually only grow to around 10,000 numbers before they would open a new exchange in town, even if it were in the same building. That is because they couldn't put more than 10,000 jacks within reach of any one operator. Quite often 9,600 was the max but some boards had room for up to 10,500 jacks. Keep in mind that large switchboards were in "sections" with the jacks multipled down the board so that all operators had access to all jacks. The operators could only reach so high and so far to each side and that is where the 9,600 to 10,500 limit comes from.

Terry

Offline dsk

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Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2011, 08:46:31 AM »
My grandparents had 278.  we had to dial the operator, and ask for Røyken (The name of the exchange) 278.

When they got rotary telephones the got a 6 digit number ending on 278. 

Now all Norwegian telephone numbers are 8 digits, wit no area code, and the number still ends at 278.  (now it is may aunts telephone)

I can still remember, and I have a similar 1934 model magneto telephone as they had until it was changed around 1970.

dsk


I have even got a regular New York number :-) 646 570 1796

Offline rp2813

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Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2011, 10:06:44 PM »
When my mom was growing up in a small Illinois farm town in the 1920's, their number was 20J.  I have a bill from that telephone account somewhere.  In pencil are initials of the operator as having received payment.  Her name was Viola -- so classic!  As I remember my mom telling it, there were suffixes of J, R, and W, all sounding so different that they couldn't be confused with one another.
Ralph

Offline JimH

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Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2011, 08:41:36 AM »
I recently read somewhere that when the first telephone was installed in the White House in the late 1870s, the telephone number was "1".
Jim H.

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2012, 12:28:26 AM »
Could very well be since that was the very beginning of telephone service so once an Exchange was established in DC the White House likely had one installed very early on AND it would be understandable for the Telephone operating company to hand over Number 1 (line jack #1 on the cord boards) to the White House!

Terry

Offline dsk

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Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2012, 06:51:38 AM »
Actually the very first didn't have numbers, The operators in Chrisitania Bell Company had to know their 400 first by name. When this became to difficult the numbers was introduced.  (Christiania was the name tat that time, in 1925 it changed to Oslo.)

dsk

I have even got a regular New York number :-) 646 570 1796

Offline Owain

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Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2012, 07:44:11 AM »
Apparently telephone numbers were introduced in 1879 in Lowell, Massachusetts, because of a measles outbreak.

Offline George Knighton

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Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2012, 10:01:23 AM »
In my small home town refuge in Virginia, there are many people who can remember when you only had to dial four numbers to get your neighbour, because until recent years everybody was on the same exchange and somehow independent.

This would have been relatively recently, too, like the 60's and 70's.

I had no idea.

Everywhere else I can recall living in the USA in the 60's, you had to dial at least 7 numbers.
Annoying new poster.

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2012, 10:19:08 AM »
7 digit dialing became mandatory with the introduction of Direct Distance Dialling in the 1950's however, depending on the type of exchange that you were served by many customers could still take stuffcuts to dial within their own exchange, particularly in small rural areas.

Terry

Offline poplar1

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Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2012, 11:53:36 AM »
We are used to uniform 7 or 10 digit phone numbers now but back in the days of Manual switchboards, as DougPav said, anything went. That is because they started counting at Jack number 1 and went from there. The exchange would frequently be known as the name of the town or city if it were the only exchange in town.

When the conversion to automatic (dial) happened they had to make all numbers the same length so if nothing else they would have added zero's to the beginning of numbers that had less digits than other numbers in the exchange. They may still have been 3 to 7 digits long but were all uniform in length then.

Manual switchboard would usually only grow to around 10,000 numbers before they would open a new exchange in town, even if it were in the same building. That is because they couldn't put more than 10,000 jacks within reach of any one operator. Quite often 9,600 was the max but some boards had room for up to 10,500 jacks. Keep in mind that large switchboards were in "sections" with the jacks multipled down the board so that all operators had access to all jacks. The operators could only reach so high and so far to each side and that is where the 9,600 to 10,500 limit comes from.

Terry

The attachments show a University telephone directory from Saskatoon in 1937. Notice that the phone numbers starting with 1 and 9 are five figures. (I don't think these are PBX extension numbers.) If this was Step-by-Step in 1937, then it would have been possible to have 1 and 9 levels  (5 digit number) on 1st selector cut to 2nd selector and 2,3,4,5 and 7  (4 digit number)  levels on 1st selector cut to the last selector before the connector.

Also, a press release about SaskTel:


SaskTel ending rotary dial service

CBC News

Posted: Apr 2, 2012 2:14 PM CST

So Long Rotary Phone Lines


It's the end of an era in Saskatchewan as SaskTel prepares to stuff down the last of its rotary phone lines.
 
On Friday, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission approved SaskTel's permission to discontinue rotary dial service.
 
Fewer than 1,000 customers use the old phones, which date back to the 1940s and '50s. For decades, SaskTel has been encouraging customers to switch to touch-tone services, which includes such things as call waiting and voicemail.
 
It hasn't let people order rotary phones since the 1990s, but has grandfathered those who still have them.
 
For some money is the issue, because touch-tone service costs more.
 
When SaskTel applied to the CRTC last year, 14 customers wrote to say, in general, that they don't want to pay for a service they don't need or want.
 
According to the CRTC, SaskTel said it wanted to withdraw the service to simplify its portfolio in order to move forward with new products and services.
 
It's giving rotary customers a $50 credit to smooth the transition.
 
Finally, even with the move to touch-tone service, customers will still be able to use their rotary dial phones if they want to, the CRTC says.

##

SaskTel is ending rotary dial phone service. What do you think? (Poll Closed)


Too bad, liked those old phones  26.41%  (310 votes)  

  
Good move, it's about time.  11.75%  (138 votes)  

  
Surprised people still use them  61.84%  (726 votes)  

    
Total Votes: 1,174
« Last Edit: November 30, 2012, 12:34:50 PM by poplar1 »
"C'est pas une restauration, c'est une rénovation."--François Martin.

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2012, 12:04:53 PM »
It is possible that SaskTel's end of rotary phone lines just means that they no longer have to keep the people grandfathered on Dial Pulse Only service at a lower monthly rate. They might not actually prevent Dial Pulse from working. Interesting that they say "fewer than 1000 people still use Rotary Dial Phones" Like they know how many have a dial phone. I bet that is the number of lines that were still programmed for DP only.

For any provider that used to allow Dial Pulse to suddenly turn it off sounds like a "Couldn't call 911 from the old phone in my garage" lawsuit in the making.

Terry
« Last Edit: November 30, 2012, 12:06:40 PM by AE_Collector »

Offline twocvbloke

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Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2012, 12:58:27 PM »
It'll probably be like here in the UK, although BT officially stopped offering LD dialling-only products over 2 decades ago, they still support it for making calls (be it an emergency call or an elderly person who doesn't think that touchtone is for them), so you can still use anything that pulse-dials on their network quite happily, other networks vary depending on what hardware they were setting up with, but generally it's still supported in most of the country... :)

Offline poplar1

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Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2012, 01:00:54 PM »
"Finally, even with the move to touch-tone service, customers will still be able to use their rotary dial phones if they want to, the CRTC says."

I read this to be that DP is being removed from the tariff and the DP only customers will be reprogrammed for Digitone and will get a $50 bonus for being holdouts.  And rotary phones will still work on all SaskTel lines, whether they were previously DP only or previously programmed for Touch-Tone.

Not sure about programming (DMS-100?), but on a Meridian SL-1, with the older release you had to change default programming in each line from "DIP" to "DTN", but in the newer release the default was "DTN."
« Last Edit: November 30, 2012, 01:03:53 PM by poplar1 »
"C'est pas une restauration, c'est une rénovation."--François Martin.